D&D Increases Its Lead In Orr Groups Q3 2015 Report

It's that time again! Every quarter or so, we get stats from The Orr Group, Fantasy Grounds, and ICv2. Usually, they all say the same thing - over the last year, they've all been saying that Dungeons & Dragons has retaken its #1 market position from Pathfinder. The Orr Group's Q3 2015 (that's July - September) stats just came in. The Orr Group maintains the Roll20 virtual tabletop app, which has over a million users. These stats indicate that D&D has held on to its overall lead, and that for the first time the player count is the highest, as opposed to just the number of games.

Below, as usual, I present the stats. D&D leads Pathfinder by 10% in terms of number of games, and by 3% in terms of number of players. I'm not sure how to interpret those two different figures - but I'm sure you will in the comments! Interestingly, D&D 4E is higher than any non-D&D-derived (by which I include Pathfinder) game - D&D and its derivatives have nearly 70% of the number of games played. As Monte Cook once observed in an interview I conducted with him and Shanna Germain, it's interesting that the top spots are being vied for by variations of Dungeons & Dragons by a BIG margin.


orrlong.png


Orr Group's previous report is here. In that report D&D had 25% of the number of games, and 31% of the number of players, and now it has 30% and 41% respectively. That's some growth. Pathfinder has dropped very slightly (and it is slight) to 20% and 37% from 21% and 40%.

Also see the ICv2 figures from the last few years (I expect new figures soon). They say much the same thing, especially the Spring 2015 ICv2 report, as, indeed, did Fantasy Grounds' latest report (although now they're officially licensed by WotC their stats are probably not as useful).
 
Last edited by a moderator:

log in or register to remove this ad

Hussar

Legend
Hussar, PCGen has had continuous development for 16 years, with a team of generally 2-6 code monkeys the entire time. There is AFAIK (I'm going to check with the code guys) more than 100k lines of code in JUST the engine, not including the data. That is JUST for a character generator, which a VTT will have to understand a good chunk of that info. Then pile the graphical overlay into it, networking, etc. And then add in the fact that any RPG is an exception based system. The very next book that comes out might break your entire code base because it includes something that can't be handled by the current codebase.

The reason you are seeing a rise of VTT's in the last few years is because of the rise of game engine's like Unity. Everything doesn't have to be built in-house anymore. Just the custom things you need to hook into the stable game engine.


edit: Proves I'm not in code, I had wildly over estimated the lines of code.

I'd point out that PC Gen is not a VTT.

A couple of things.

1. AFAIK, none of the current VTT's use the Unity engine. So, I'm not sure how much of an impact that has. And, I wasn't talking about the number of VTT's out there, I was talking about the number of users. But, even then, there's been about a dozen VTT's on the market since 2002. It's not like this is some new technology. It's been around for quite a while now.

2. Even if you assume a million lines of code, break it down. Can a programer produce a thousand lines of code a day? Doesn't seem like too high of an estimate. That means for a million lines, you have about a 1000 man days. Split that between a team of 5 and you produce the program in 6 months. WOTC had a VTT for 4e with all the functionality of Fantasy grounds, and, yup, produced it in about 6 months. I'm still baffled why they dropped the program. Probably because it was for 4e and they just couldn't get the player base. But, 5e? A six month investment, heck, even a 1 year investment seems a pretty small price to pay for an audience measured in the hundreds of thousands.

It still absolutely baffles me why WOTC or Paizo doesn't have its own VTT program. Sure, WOTC has outsourced things to Fantasy Grounds, and that's great, but, remember, that only happened last year. It baffles me why they didn't do it years ago. At least they've started down the path now. I'm not terribly impressed with Fantasy Grounds, but, I do have high hopes for the next iteration, whenever that comes. FG lacks a lot of functionality and is really not a very user friendly program, although, admittedly, probably more user friendly than Maptool, but, certainly less than Roll20. And FG is, IMO, dead last in functionality of the three.

Here's hoping that the Unity Engine update isn't empty promises and we get a VTT that is actually worth the money I had to pay for it.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

log in or register to remove this ad

Hussar

Legend
I will second what has already been said. The two top RPG companies both invested in making their own VTT. In both cases, they got fairly far along in the very beginning and it looked like they were much farther along than they actually were. After an initial investment, both projects were canceled or just stalled indefinitely.

Fantasy Grounds was written in 2004 originally and then was updated continuously until I bought the company in 2009. It has been continuously updated since that time again. Each of our rulesets is like a separate VTT project build, as well, but we are at least able to build upon a common core of functionality. We have several full-time, highly skilled professional developers working on it and around 30 or so community developers who work on anything from content to pure programming. We recently added Carl Pinder, who wrote Tabletop Connect from the ground up in Unity. He is another highly skilled, professional video game developer and he spent an unknown amount of time developing something for a Kickstarter that he launched in August 2008 and then spent the last two years continuing to develop it.

I also know the stories of several other VTT companies, because we often talk with each other and I know that they have similarly invested years (or decades) worth of coding. It's a challenging problem to solve and the expectations by consumers are very high. When you combine that with constantly changing requirements (i.e. new editions or RPG product releases), it just becomes untenable to expect even a big RPG publisher to build their own system and also continue to produce their existing content.

See, this is what baffles me. How? How could it be that complicated? I started gaming online with OpenRPG, back in 2002. And that was programmed in Python. To be honest, there's very little that, say, Fantasy Grounds (which I've been using for the past year) can do that OpenRPG couldn't. Token functionality I suppose. (I mean tokens as in the tokens you put on the board, not the adjective, just to be clear)

I mean, why? Why would it take "several" full time coders to develop this?

As I said, it must be much harder to do than it looks, because, from an outside perspective, it doesn't look like it should be that hard.
 

smiteworks

Explorer
I'm not familiar with OpenRPG, but depending on the ruleset, Fantasy Grounds provides a lot of automation.

Underestimating the scope of the problem is a common thing. That's why you see a new VTT pop up every few months on Kickstarter. A single RPG book might be 300 pages and be full of rules and often those rules are not planned for ease of translation into a program. There is not a single game out there really allows all of those rules to be automated. Even big blockbuster titles typically choose to only deliver a subset of the rules. Character Builders like PCGen and HeroLab have done a pretty good job handling the rules for different game systems, but that took a lot of resources to do and continues to take a lot of resources to maintain. Character generation is also only one part of a game system. When you start trying to automate or support all the things you can do in combat, what resistances work against what damage type, how one spell or affect can affect the next action another combatant takes, how to randomly generate treasure, assign a CR for an encounter, pre-place combatants on a map, roll initiative, communicate over a network or on a web page, etc., then those things all take code and time to implement and test them. There is no one thing that Fantasy Grounds or another program does that another program couldn't be written to do. It's the combination of all of the things that are done that gives an overall experience.

People outside of programming don't really recognize the amount of effort that goes into things like this or even for a relatively simple video game. At least it's a fun challenge to solve. I'd take that over working in the corporate world again.
 

Hussar

Legend
I'm not familiar with OpenRPG, but depending on the ruleset, Fantasy Grounds provides a lot of automation.

Underestimating the scope of the problem is a common thing. That's why you see a new VTT pop up every few months on Kickstarter. A single RPG book might be 300 pages and be full of rules and often those rules are not planned for ease of translation into a program. There is not a single game out there really allows all of those rules to be automated. Even big blockbuster titles typically choose to only deliver a subset of the rules. Character Builders like PCGen and HeroLab have done a pretty good job handling the rules for different game systems, but that took a lot of resources to do and continues to take a lot of resources to maintain. Character generation is also only one part of a game system. When you start trying to automate or support all the things you can do in combat, what resistances work against what damage type, how one spell or affect can affect the next action another combatant takes, how to randomly generate treasure, assign a CR for an encounter, pre-place combatants on a map, roll initiative, communicate over a network or on a web page, etc., then those things all take code and time to implement and test them. There is no one thing that Fantasy Grounds or another program does that another program couldn't be written to do. It's the combination of all of the things that are done that gives an overall experience.

People outside of programming don't really recognize the amount of effort that goes into things like this or even for a relatively simple video game. At least it's a fun challenge to solve. I'd take that over working in the corporate world again.

That's the thing though. I wouldn't expect a Paizo (to pick and example) VTT to run anything other than Pathfinder. I wouldn't expect a WOTC VTT to run anything other than D&D. So, cross system functionality isn't an issue, AFAIC. I can appreciate why Fantasy Grounds or Maptool or whatever is system agnostic. But there's no reason to think that an RPG company produced VTT would be.

And, again, my point is that there have been VTT's with the functionality of Fantasy Grounds out for well over a decade now. This isn't some new fangled technology that's never been tested. It's been done, done well, and done many times. Throw enough money and time at it, and you get a VTT. I can't imagine it's harder to program a VTT than, say, an MMO. Which, again, utterly baffles me why the big name RPG companies haven't done it.

Good grief, Settlers of Catan has a virtual tabletop produced by Klaus Tuber. You'd think that RPG companies could do the same thing. Heck, WotC HAS a VTT for Magic which has been fantastically successful. Magic Online is a pretty darn big thing. Again, I can't imagine that coding for an RPG would be significantly more difficult than that.

But, hey, I'm apparently wrong, because no one is stepping up to the plate.
 

smiteworks

Explorer
Well, the budgets for MMO games are usually in the millions of dollars range. The VTT space is growing, but it is no where near the size of an MMO market yet. There was a recent MMO built by an RPG company and we see that even a few million dollars was not enough. If there are a million users for a VTT, you'll find that 950K of them expect to use it for free.

People step up to the plate all the time. The problem is that even if they get funded for $30-40K, they quickly find that it isn't enough to spend 1-2 years developing something when each programmer on the team could be making $100K or more working in the corporate world. Check KickStarter and search for "virtual tabletop" and you will see a few current projects, a bunch of unsuccessful projects and a few others that were successful from a funding standpoint but which are either still in early development or which have gone away or gotten absorbed into another VTT.

https://www.kickstarter.com/discove...letop&woe_id=0&sort=magic&seed=2409343&page=5
 

Wicht

Hero
Given how little support the game is given by the publisher nowadays, I guess IK has really tanked for Privateer Press.

It works both ways: a game with little support garners fewer players; a less popular game is going to lead to less support from a publisher with other irons in the fire. My guess here, is that Privateer simply discovered there was more money to be made, for them, in a miniatures game than a RPG.
 

Elvish Lore

Explorer
It works both ways: a game with little support garners fewer players; a less popular game is going to lead to less support from a publisher with other irons in the fire. My guess here, is that Privateer simply discovered there was more money to be made, for them, in a miniatures game than a RPG.

Absolutely. It's why they veered into minis back in the day after starting with D&D 3.0 products. I can't fault PP at all -- I think they developed a big, beautiful rpg with the new IK but even if it had been a lot more popular, PP's ROI is far, far greater with minis.
 

Hussar

Legend
Well, the budgets for MMO games are usually in the millions of dollars range. The VTT space is growing, but it is no where near the size of an MMO market yet. There was a recent MMO built by an RPG company and we see that even a few million dollars was not enough. If there are a million users for a VTT, you'll find that 950K of them expect to use it for free.

People step up to the plate all the time. The problem is that even if they get funded for $30-40K, they quickly find that it isn't enough to spend 1-2 years developing something when each programmer on the team could be making $100K or more working in the corporate world. Check KickStarter and search for "virtual tabletop" and you will see a few current projects, a bunch of unsuccessful projects and a few others that were successful from a funding standpoint but which are either still in early development or which have gone away or gotten absorbed into another VTT.

https://www.kickstarter.com/discove...letop&woe_id=0&sort=magic&seed=2409343&page=5

Yes, but, none of those is backed directly by an RPG producer. I'm not talking about some guy or group of guys creating (or really, recreating) another VTT. I'm talking about a fully branded D&D VTT with a big old WOTC stamp right on the front. Or, a Pathfinder VTT with a Paizo Golem on the cover. Take your pick.

Again, two years? Seriously? It would take two years to create a VTT from scratch? Or do you mean two years for one person? WOTC managed to get a fully functional VTT out for 4e in 6 months or so. Granted, it still had some ways to go - the functionality wasn't quite there yet. But, I find the idea it would take two years to develop a single game VTT to be a very high estimate.
 

smiteworks

Explorer
It all depends on how many people you have on the project and what you expect the system to actually do. Yes, you can get a very basic system set up in as little as a few months. It won't do but a fraction of what existing VTTs do and it won't have much content. The problem is that the market of people who are willing to pay for a very basic system that doesn't do at least what the major VTTs today do, is extremely small.

I don't know what else to tell you. Most RPG companies are smaller than you think and only a few would have the resources to attempt it. Those who have, have not been successful doing it.
 

darjr

I crit!
Yes, but, none of those is backed directly by an RPG producer. I'm not talking about some guy or group of guys creating (or really, recreating) another VTT. I'm talking about a fully branded D&D VTT with a big old WOTC stamp right on the front. Or, a Pathfinder VTT with a Paizo Golem on the cover. Take your pick.

Again, two years? Seriously? It would take two years to create a VTT from scratch? Or do you mean two years for one person? WOTC managed to get a fully functional VTT out for 4e in 6 months or so. Granted, it still had some ways to go - the functionality wasn't quite there yet. But, I find the idea it would take two years to develop a single game VTT to be a very high estimate.

Paizo has tried, and so far I don't know that they've even released an alpha of their VTT yet. WotC tried several times and eventually gave up and went with a complete third party solution, providing only the content. As soon as you let thousands of different machines with hundreds of different configurations install your app you have a HUGE headache on your hands and a handfull of developers get overwhelmed very fast. Even if you are very very lucky and everything works perfectly on known configurations and the source code is completely easily maintainable, which I promise you will be very unlikely.

I think these other VTT's like roll20 and WotC's third party partner have had the chance to slowly build up their feature set and fix bugs. To slowly expand their user base and deal with the issues at a more sustainable pace for their companies sizes. That takes time, so any competitor that want's to go that successful route will HAVE to start with less functionality and HAVE to be able to survive the time it takes to build that up.

But the competition is already ramping up and getting fierce.
 

Remove ads

Latest threads

Remove ads

AD6_gamerati_skyscraper

Remove ads

Upcoming Releases

Top